It’s the announcement New Jersey’s devastated arts communities have waited 15 months to hear: All state-mandated capacity and social distancing limits for both indoor and outdoor entertainment venues will soon be lifted. Outdoor restrictions disappear May 28, indoor goes away June 4.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday, in a sweeping relaxation of pandemic restrictions, that New Jersey would soon no longer enforce occupancy limits as the COVID-19 virus continues to be quelled by vaccination efforts.
Currently, indoor venues of 1,000 seats or more are restricted to 30% capacity, while outdoor venues are under no capacity limit but must maintain 6 feet of social distance.
Murphy said fully vaccinated people do not need face coverings, but those unvaccinated should still wear masks and exhibit caution.
The news comes as New Jersey’s entertainment venues have suffered tens of millions of dollars in lost box office revenue since uniform shutdowns took place in March 2020.
“It’s a major relief because initially there was talk this could go on for years,” Caroline O’Toole, general manager of Asbury Park’s iconic Stone Pony rock club, told NJ Advance Media. “I don’t think The Stone Pony or any venue could survive that long. It’s a relief to know venues now won’t be shuttered permanently.”
The Stone Pony’s outdoor Summer Stage will feature full-capacity performances beginning July 31 with Chicago punk-rockers Rise Against. Until then, an outdoor beer garden in the summer stage lot will open soon.
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